According to diplomatic sources, the magazine Politico, representatives of a number of Western countries believe that the participation of the cadets in the St. Petersburg international economic forum may strengthen the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin before the adoption of the EU’s key decisions on the extension of sanctions against Moscow.
The Politico diplomatic sources in the field reported that among the countries that on a private level expressed dissatisfaction with the impending visit of Juncker, was attended by USA, UK, some Baltic States and Central Europe. The representatives of these countries believe that the visit of the cadets may serve to improve Russia’s position in the “delicate moment of the debate on sanctions”.
As stated by Politico, foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius, “meeting for the sake of meeting as such does not carry any added value for the relationship between Russia and the EU.” Linkevičius noted that the Kremlin is using these meetings in order to create the impression of business as usual in relations with the West.
According to two diplomatic sources in the EU Politico, some members of the staff cadets advised the President of the European Commission not to take part in SPIEF, given the “sensitivity” of the issue of sanctions. European Commission spokesperson refused to comment on a possible disagreement within the European Commission on the question of Juncker’s arrival in Russia.
Politico, citing representatives of the European Commission notes that Juncker may yet abandon the visit to St. Petersburg if the Russian government will take any “unexpected provocative step” or will worsen the situation in Ukraine.
That Juncker will attend SPIEF, June 16, Reuters reported, citing the official representative of the European Commission. A spokesman at the same time, noted that a final decision on the trip is pending. According to the representative of the European Commission, Juncker is using his visit in order to “convey to the Russian leadership, as well as to a wider audience the EU perspective on the current state of relations between Russia and the European Union”.
Putin’s press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the Russian President in the forum is scheduled to meet with Juncker.
In international economic forum, which will be held from 16 to 18 June, will be attended by about 3.5 thousand people, half of them are foreigners. According to a source in the organizing Committee of the forum, “political star” of the forum will be Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi. From big businessmen their participation in the forum confirmed Alibaba founder Jack MA, the head of Siemens Joe KAESER, the head of Total Patrick Pouyanne, and several others.
SPIEF will take place 2 weeks before the EU summit (it will be held on 28-29 June), which will consider the question of extension of sanctions against Russia by six months. According to Bloomberg, all 28 EU countries support the extension of sanctions against Russia.